Indians rookie catcher Carlos Santana is really, really good

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Carlos Santana’s promotion to Cleveland kind of got lost in the call-up shuffle last month as Stephen Strasburg and Mike Stanton dominated the hype and headlines, but the switch-hitting catcher has been fantastic and the Indians are quietly playing much better since his arrival.
Prior to calling up Santana the Indians were 23-36, but they’ve gone 17-18 with him in the lineup as the 24-year-old acquired from the Dodgers for Casey Blake in mid-2008 has hit .282 with a .431 on-base percentage and .547 slugging percentage in 153 plate appearances.
In the minors Santana drew more walks than strikeouts while getting on base at a .401 clip, but drawing 32 walks in 153 trips to the plate is remarkable patience for a rookie getting his first taste of the big leagues. Projected over a full season of 600 plate appearances, he’s on a 125-walk pace. Gene Tenace holds the all-time walks record for catchers with 125 in 1977.
Santana has also shown excellent power, smacking six homers and 13 doubles in 117 at-bats. He never showed quite that much pop in the minors, but did average 21 homers and 34 doubles per 500 at-bats. Offensively he’s the total package, with power and patience from both sides of the plate. And he’s even thrown out 35 percent of steal attempts after struggling to control the running game at times in the minors.
He’ll no doubt go through a rough patch eventually, but Santana’s minor-league track record is nearly flawless, his approach at the plate is fantastic, and he has the potential to be a perennial MVP candidate long after Casey Blake is retired. Sorry, Dodgers fans.

Giancarlo Stanton dented the outfield wall in Marlins Park

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If we haven’t said it before, it bears repeating: When it comes to pure muscle mass and power, no major league player rivals the sheer force of Giancarlo Stanton. His record-setting 504-foot home run in 2016 has yet to be bested in the Statcast era (though it narrowly beat out Jake Arrieta‘s 503-foot blast in 2015, because baseball is weird), he broke the Dodgers’ outfield fence on an attempted catch at the wall last Sunday, and he carries 25 home runs that have each exceeded 460 feet.

It should come as little surprise, then, that when Stanton muscled his 12th home run of the season against the Angels on Friday night, it not only hit the batter’s eye, but left a visible dent in the wall:

Stanton’s mammoth shot put the Marlins on the board in the first inning, setting the stage for a four-run effort that gave the club an early lead. The home run measured a cool 462 feet, the slugger’s longest of the season. He still has a little ways to go to catch up to the 2017 season leader, Jake Lamb, whose 481-foot home run against the Rockies currently leads the pack.

The next item on Stanton’s bucket list? If we’re lucky, maybe something a little like this:

Bud Norris exits outing with right knee soreness

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Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.

While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.

 

When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.